If the boot fits – ski in it | SummitDaily.com

If the boot fits – ski in it

BRECKENRIDGE – Jeff Bergeron wants every skier – from World Cup racers to beginners – to discover the magic of carving turns with comfort and ease. For 16 years, he’s been customizing boots so they work with – instead of against – a skier’s natural alignment.

As a ski instructor, technician, racer and coach, Bergeron spent years researching boot fit, body alignment and efficiency of movement.

“Boots were where everyone got stuck,” Bergeron said. “I worked with the top people in the ski industry and with doctors, physical therapists and podiatrists. I kept testing things until I knew more than anyone.”

Seven years ago, he opened his own shop, Boot Fixation, in Breckenridge. Though he knows boots inside and out, he doesn’t sell any equipment – he sells comfort and efficiency of movement. Bergeron has a passion, and talent, for evaluating a skier’s alignment in a boot and correcting it in the lateral (side-to-side), sagittal (fore and aft) and transverse (from the top) planes.

While most ski shops focus solely on a skier’s feet when customizing boots, Bergeron studies the mechanics of the whole body. Then he molds orthotics, adjusts boots – and even changes the height of the binding plates – to fit a person’s natural stance and correct such misalignments as splayed feet, forward lean or bow-legs.

If, for example, a skier flexes forward in the boots, the knees may fall inward and even touch, making it difficult to carve turns properly. Bergeron corrects the misalignment with orthotics and other fine tunings.

“The goal is to get the ski boot to work in harmony with the body,” Bergeron said. “Most shops don’t look at the alignment of the body. They only look at the foot.”

He also recommends the three top boots that would fit the person’s body type. His suggestions and corrections have saved skiers from giving up the sport.

“Boots tend to be bad enough for men, but they can be god-awful for women,” he said. “A lot of women have been ready to quit skiing – even instructors.”

Breckenridge ski instructor Jan Degerberg went to Bergeron looking for a more balanced stance. Though she swears by Lange boots for performance, they were pushing her too far forward – until Bergeron fixed them.

“I’ve had plenty of footbeds made after 27 years of instructing, but what he’s done for me has been remarkable,” Degerberg said. “It was beyond the footbed. Jeff just seemed to know a little more about how the whole alignment thing worked. People get footbeds, but that’s only part of the puzzle. The whole fore, aft and lateral canting has to be looked at.

“I told Jeff, “I can’t mess around. I need to ski without pain.’ I’d get canted (at other ski shops), and I’d feel (pain in) my knee or my hips. It was like they were trying to put my body in a position it didn’t want to be in. He has definitely got me much more centered. My knee doesn’t hurt, I feel balanced and I stand the way I want to. It’s enabled me to be a more powerful skier.”

Breckenridge ski instructor Jerry Stein credits passing his level-three certification to Bergeron’s work. His range of movement was limited when turning right (because of an injury), and one leg was a centimeter shorter than the other. Bergeron realigned him through orthotics, canting and building up one of his boots.

“He (helped) me to pass my level-three certification, which I had failed several times. My whole level of skiing changed,” Stein said. “I was finally able to have symmetrical movement. I didn’t have to force my movement from one side to another.”

Bergeron treats beginner and intermediate skiers with the same care with which he treats advanced skiers. He worked and skied with Lance Glaser for hours to correct alignment problems caused by a broken back. Glaser went from having difficulty with parallel turns on flat runs (after taking lessons) to being able to ski anywhere on the mountain.

Alignment work ranges from $100 to $250, and boot modifications are $20 to $120. Bergeron also offers boot consultation and education, boot fitting and ski-tuning lessons. Early season, children’s and repeat customer discounts are available. For more information, call Boot Fixation at (970) 453-8546.


Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.

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